A new study showed another disastrous effect of the pandemic on kids — a spike in gun injuries. The information comes alongside another study that showed the increasing homicide rates of kids.
The study was published on Monday in JAMA Pediatrics and found that the rate of children with injuries from firearms going to children’s hospitals in the United States “significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and remained elevated throughout 2021.”
The study counted “all children younger than 18 years diagnosed with firearm injury,” using “data from the Pediatric Health Information System.”
The research discovered that there were 1,815 firearm injuries in a given period prior to the pandemic, while there were 2,759 during the pandemic — which was a 52% spike.
While there “were no significant differences between cohorts by sex, household income, rurality, region, mortality, or intent,” the study found that more non-Hispanic black children, kids ages 0 to 5 years old, as well as kids with public insurance were hurt by firearms during the pandemic when contrasted with kids harmed by firearms before the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was independently associated with increased monthly firearm injuries after controlling for all covariates,” it added.
The monthly average of firearm injuries was also much higher during the period of the pandemic than it was prior to the pandemic.
“This really highlights the fact that the leading cause of death in children and adolescents is firearms,” Stephanie Iantorno, a co-author of the analysis, said, per The Wall Street Journal.
Data show that “in 2020 (the most recent year with available data from the CDC), firearms were the number one cause of death for children ages 1-19 in the United States, taking the lives of 4,357 children,” reports the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Researchers said psychological stress and other factors associated with the pandemic might have played a role in the rise in the incidence of firearm injuries and homicides among children,” WSJ notes.
The homicide rates of children have also been going up in recent years, a separate study found. The rate has gone up each year, “on average 4.3% since 2013,” and it increased even more from 2019 to 2020, going up 27.7%.
The study found that homicide rates have recently gone up a lot for males, black children, Hispanic kids, kids in the south, as well as those in urban and rural regions. They also went up for kids 6 to 10, 11 to 15, and 16 to 17 years of age.
It also noted that homicide rates have gone down since 1999 for girls, infants, and children between the ages of one and five years old. It has also gone down for Asian or Pacific Islander children, white children, and kids in the Northeast.
Dr. Elinore J. Kaufman, co-author of the editorial with the study, told The New York Times that homicides of younger kids typically happen inside or close to the home. They are most frequently carried out by people taking care of the children and parents and are also many times connected to neglect and child abuse and show the stressful situations of families, she said.
“I don’t think we’re doing a good job of taking care of families, and it shows,” Dr. Kaufman noted.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the pandemic and the policies enacted as a result appear to have had a negative impact on children in multiple areas, including delays in preventative medical care, social isolation, and loss of school experience.